The Mongolia Bike Challenge sponsored by Orbea is earning the reputation as one of the world’s toughest mountain bike events. The 1200km, 10 stage race takes riders through some breath taking scenery that is far removed from civilization and is devoid of tourist visits.
The 2011 edition of the race took place in August through a remote rugged corner of Mongolia. Athletes flew from Ulaanbatar to Dalanzagad to start of stage one in the Gobi Desert, traversing through the vast desert to the lush green steppes of the Khanghai Mountains dotted with thousands of yak and Mongolian nomads.
It is an event tailored for the person looking for true adventure, it will take you on a journey of discovery. What makes it even more unique is the opportunity to live like the native Nomads; sleeping in tents and different locations each day. To make the suffering easier, you have a wonderful group of like-minded people from all-corners of the world to overcome the challenges together.
A group of seven Australians from Melbourne attended the race including well-known race promoter and long distance MTB rider Rohin Adams, Melinda Jackson (she won the female category and took home a nice Orbea Almer 29er as her prize) and a bunch of other riders from Fitzroy Revolution. You can see most of these riders are now performing extremely well at other mountain bike races in Australia, East Timor and Langkawi thanks to the ‘Mongolian Motor’ they acquired during their experience in Mongolia. According to Rohin Adams, the first four days of racing was simply the hardest racing he had ever endured in his career of racing. Every one of those days was harder than the any one day MTB marathon he had ever done.
As for my experience, I was invited to race and report this event by Orbea bikes. I raced on a Orbea Almer 29er equipped with Sram XX components which I received the day before the race. Ideal preparation! I didn’t have a choice but my body adapted remarkably well during the course of the challenge. By the final day I felt like I was flying and managed my best placing of 7th. It was the most difficult racing challenge I’ve ever experienced and I was proud to have finished this momentous event. I can say without a doubt, from here on, any bike race I enter will never be as hard. To read about my daily experiences, check out my Bikedan in Asia blog.
The 2012 edition of the Mongolia Bike Challenge takes place from July 30-Aug 13 (with a couple days on each side for arrival/departure). You can visit the Mongolia Bike Challenge website for further information if you are interested in racing this epic event. You can also email Chris Ganeff firstname.lastname@example.org. Next year’s edition is already 40% sold and there are a maximum of 108 spots available. The 2012 route looks to be more exciting, with less time in the Gobi Desert and more time spent in the Khanghai Mountain range area.